In a move that will startle rail preservationists everywhere, CRRC (the Chinese-government owned railcar builder) will be assembling new low-cost coaches for the WW&F in its newly-completed Springfield, MA factory. Having successfully received contracts to build subway cars and commuter coaches for some of the US' largest transit systems - including Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago - CRRC now wishes to enter the narrow gauge preservation market.
CRRC became interested in bidding on the project when officials were impressed by the modeling of Eric Shade at a recent railroad hobby show in Springfield. CRRC has hired Mr. Shade to oversee the preservation group, starting with a fleet of coaches for Maine's historic WW&F Railway.
"With all the crappy models coming out of China these days, I thought this might be an opportunity to build something of quality" explained Shade.
Shade had planned to oversee the construction of a single coach at the WW&F Museum. However, since the Chinese offered to fabricate a fleet of coaches for the price that one would have cost the museum to build, Museum Superintendent Zack Wyllie hailed the decision as "a no brainah." When told of the change in plans, WW&F CMO Jason Lamontagne covered his ears and repeated "LA, LA, LA" very loudly. He was last seen making baby talk with his daughter, Amelia.
Terms of the contract were negotiated by Feiyu "Felix" Qi, long-time boyfriend of museum volunteer Emily Lecuyer. Qi's mother is a senior manager for CRRC at their Dalian, China headquarters. Qi is negotiating similar contracts with other narrow gauge railroads needing additional coaches, including the White Pass & Yukon, Durango & Silverton, Cumbres & Toltec, and Dan Markoff.
The coaches will be constructed as true replicas of historic Jackson & Sharp cars. "This will help us avoid pesky FRA crashworthiness requirements" explained Qi. However, the coaches will be fully compatible with the WW&F's iChooch system
Similar negotiations are underway to bring several Chinese 0-8-0 narrow gauge locomotives to the WW&F for operation, and Chinese steel rails to extend the WW&F main line all the way to China (Maine.)